Nicole Ducouer, IFB Solutions Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Programs
336-685-2393 |



ASHEVILLE, NC (February 20, 2019) – Local nonprofit IFB Solutions was honored with the 2018 Employment Growth Award for its efforts to increase employment retention, growth and upward mobility for people who are blind. This is IFB’s 13th award, which is presented by National Industries for the Blind (NIB) to recognize agencies who are increasing employment and economic opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired.

In 2018, IFB added 63 jobs for people who are blind, and promoted eight individuals from direct labor to indirect labor positions. The Asheville facility hired 10 of those employees. Across its three locations in Asheville, N.C., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., IFB employs nearly 500 people who are blind or visually impaired making it the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the country.

“IFB Solutions plays a vital role in drawing people to this area,” said David Horton, IFB Solutions President and CEO. “Many of our 63 new hires were individuals who relocated to Winston-Salem because they could not find jobs in their own communities. And for nearly one-third of our total workforce, IFB is their first job opportunity. We cannot emphasize enough the importance that these jobs play in changing the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.”

Jake Padalino, Supervisor, Poncho Line, was hired in the Asheville facility in 2017. Padalino is legally blind, the result of a genetic condition. He’s an avid outdoor person who paddleboards and enjoys whitewater rafting. He was initially hired in Asheville to work in the plant’s sewing department making Extreme Weather Outer Layer and poncho garments for the military. Not long after he was promoted to supervisor through the Upward Mobility program.

“Working at IFB has been a life changing experience for me. As a legally blind person I have always experienced some level of discrimination in the workplace. IFB has provided an opportunity for meaningful employment in a non-discriminatory environment with competitive compensation and excellent benefits, as well as avenues for promotion. When I was promoted to supervisor I was able to discontinue all government assistance and begin providing a comfortable living for myself,” said Padalino.

According to NIB, 70 percent of working-age Americans who are blind are not employed. The success of agencies like IFB Solutions in creating and sustaining employment opportunities for people who are blind is key to changing this statistic.

“IFB Solutions is doing an outstanding job of creating U.S.-based career opportunities for people who are blind,” said NIB President and CEO Kevin Lynch. “This is a great example of the unlimited capabilities of people who are blind working across the country.”

IFB Solutions’ local footprint in Asheville includes large-scale manufacturing operations and a Community Low Vision Center.


About IFB Solutions (IFB)

IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to more than 40 office supply stores and optical centers across the country. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible the Community Low Vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark., and Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse based in Winston-Salem.